It’s taken a bit of a while, but Bentley has finally introduced the obligatory Speed variant of the third-generation Continental GT. As with previous models, it gets a more powerful engine and a series of comprehensive chassis tweaks to deliver on the rather succinct promise of its name.
The Speed is based on the W12 model, the 6.0 litre twin-turbocharged engine of which has been breathed on to produce 24 PS more at 659 PS; maximum torque holds station at a whopping 900 Nm. The power bump is lower than in previous years, so the performance improvements are also fairly modest – the zero-to-100 km/h time is just 0.1 seconds quicker at 3.6 seconds, while the top speed is up 2 km/h to 335 km/h.
As for the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the retuned software enables it to shift twice as quickly in Sport mode, while also holding onto gears for longer and downshifting quicker to keep the engine in its power band. But it’s underneath where Bentley has thrown the entire kitchen sink to turn this two-tonne car into something that can actually handle.
Aside from triple-chamber air suspension and 48-volt active roll stabilisation, the Speed adds two new technologies never before seen on a Continental GT. The first is rear-wheel steering, first seen on the Flying Spur and made even more active here, increasing agility in concert with the all-wheel drive system.
Speaking of which, the active AWD has also been tweaked (as has the traction control) to provide a noticeable change in character, delivering greater grip and, in Sport mode, an increased rearward bias. The second new addition is a Bentley-first electronic limited-slip rear differential, which is claimed to give the Speed more lateral grip, straight-line stability and throttle adjustability, the latter in Sport mode in particular.
The Speed is also offered with a new carbon ceramic brake option with massive ten-piston front and four-piston rear callipers. Not only do they scrub off a massive 10 MJ of energy when stopping from top speed, they are also claimed to reduce brake dust – important when the car wears shiny new 22-inch alloy wheels.
The new rollers aren’t the only points of differentiation from the standard Conti. There’s also a Dark Tint finish for the grille and air intake mesh, plus protruding skirts around the car and standard-fit “jewel” fuel and oil filler caps. Inside, you get illuminated Bentley side sill skid plates, a unique two-tone colour scheme with leather and matching Alcantara upholstery, optional engine-turned dark aluminium trim, Speed embroidered headrests and Speed badging in front of the passenger.
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